Free public WiFi has been turned on in parts all over the world by some network or other, and while the majority of the time it’s simply to get the company’s name out there, when it’s from Google, it feels a little different. That’s because Google’s name needs no introduction, but they do need people to get online to use their services. In emerging markets such as India, it’s getting people online that is the bigger hurdle, and so it’s unsurprising that the Internet giant is happy to introduce free, high-speed internet to Mumbai’s Central Station in India.
Perhaps like no other nation on Earth, trains are essential for people getting to where they need to be in India, so train stations become a big part of local communities. Google is partnering with Indian Railways and RailTel to provide WiFi to 400 stations across India, with 100 of them to hopefully go live before the end of 2016. Mumbai’s Central Station is the first up, and despite the fact Google isn’t putting a number on it, they’re claiming the ability to stream HD video using the free service while waiting for your trains. The network will be recognized by its “RailWire Wi-Fi” SSID, and each individual device will get its own code using the simple sign-in process from Google. There’s a curious piece of wording in Google’s blog post announcing the launch in which it says that the WiFi “will be entirely free to start” which could mean that a small charge might be introduced later down the line, although we hope not.
People might be angry that Google isn’t detailing the overall speed of their free network at launch, but this is presumably because Google doesn’t know how long its starting speed will remain good for. After all, over 100,000 pass through Mumbai’s Central Station, and the more people that hop on the network, the less bandwidth there’ll be to spread around. Hopefully though, the promise of being able to stream HD video is one that signals a speedy connection for some time to come. This is the first of four stations to go online in the coming weeks and months and Google hopes to have 100 of them online before 2016 comes to a close. Unfortunately though, there’s no list for us to take a look at just yet.